Demigod Hippocrates… The Father Of Medicine, The Original Hippocratic Oath & The Truth About The Medical Community

I SWEAR BY Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia AND ALL THE GODS AND GODDESSES, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art-if they desire to learn it-without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to MY ABILITY AND JUDGMENT; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

-Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein. From The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943.

Matthew 5:34-37, “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Exodus 23:13, “And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.”

Deuteronomy 6:14, “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;”

Deuteronomy 12:30-31, “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for EVERY ABOMINATION to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.”

I swear to fulfill, to the best of MY ABILITY AND JUDGMENT, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine AS WELL AS SCIENCE, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the SURGEON’S KNIFE OR THE CHEMIST’S DRUG.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also BE WITHIN MY POWER TO TAKE A LIFE; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

-Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.


The International Hippocratic Foundation of Kos (IFHK), is a Public Benefit Foundation, with an international character, created in 1960 to HONOR THE FATHER OF MEDICINE… Hippocrates. Click HERE to view a video about it.

Hippocrates – philosopher, scientist, author, doctor – one of the greatest in a galaxy of great minds of the ancient Greek World, was born on the island of Kos in 460 BC. He died in 370 BC, about a decade before the birth of Alexander the Great and the dawn of the Hellenistic era during which the Greek ideas and achievements in mathematics, philosophy, science, literature, architecture, art and politics, along with the Hippocratic rational medicine were spread to the then known world.

The ancestry of Hippocrates IS CONNECTED TO Greek mythology. It is said that HE WAS 20th GENERATION DESCENDANT OF DEMIGOD Hercules (son of Zeus) AND 18th GENERATION DESCENDANT OF DEMIGOD – LATER DEIFIED AS GOD OF MEDICINE – Asklepios (son of Apollo). He was thus a descendant of two of the most respected and honored Olympian GODS in the ancient Greek World. Suffice it to point out that the installations of the Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia were dedicated to Zeus, while the Oracle Place in Delphi was a shrine of Apollo.

By heredity, Hippocrates could be in the guild of Asclepiads physicians who were PRACTICING THEIR HEALING ART based mainly on a combination of RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PREJUDICE and on an ad hoc administration of various herbs, an art passed on from father to son – since his grandfather, his father and his uncle had been Asclepiads. Regarding the beginning of this practice in Kos, Homer mentions that Asclepiads Podalerios of Thessalia (in mainland Greece) physician-son of Asklepios had fought with the Greeks in the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, Asclepiads was returning by ship to his homeland, but got shipwrecked and landed on Kos. There he settled and began PRACTICING HIS HEALING ART, which survived and evolved through the guild of the Asclepiads, until the era of Hippocrates.

Amongst the teachers of Hippocrates were men like Herodecos, as well known dietician of that time and the sophist Gorgias, while Democritos, the inventor of the concept of the atomic constitution of matter, became his friend.

Hippocrates was practically a contemporary of Plato (429-347 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC, who later became the tutor of Alexander the Great) and of some of the great playwrights of Athens. He traveled extensively and offered his services in many Greek cities.

Plato mentions Hippocrates twice in his dialogues. Once in “Protagoras” where Socrates urges a young man, also named Hippocrates, to travel to Kos in order to study medicine near Hippocrates of Kos. In “Phaedrus”, Hippocrates is mentioned as the man who teaches that the PRACTICE OF MEDICINE requires the understanding of natural events.

Aristotle in his Politics VII says: “When one mentions the Great Hippocrates, one means not the man but the Physician”

Job 13:4, “But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.”

Luke 8:43, “And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,”

2 Chronicles 16:12, “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.”

James 5:14-16, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil IN THE NAME OF THE LORD: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Exodus 15:26, “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

HIPPOCRATES WAS THE FIRST TO SECULARIZE MEDICINE by rejecting the ancient religious-oriented healing practice. His therapeutic methods started with the careful observation of the phenomena of disease, ATTEMPTING A RATIONAL APPROACH TO DIAGNOSIS. The treatment placed emphasis on the patient and relied on the recovery ability of the human body when placed in the proper environment and supported by the appropriate medicines. When necessary, surgery was applied on external parts, using opium and mandragora as anesthetics.

Thus, HE INTRODUCED PRINCIPLES OF SCIENCE IN THE THERAPY OF MAN’S BODY AND MIND. It is in this respect that, since Roman times, he is considered as THE FATHER OF MEDICINE.

Hippocrates is also accredited with the authorship of several medical books. In A TRULY CONTEMPORARY SCIENTIFIC WAY, he declares in his Epidemics: “State the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future”.

“Life is short
The art long
Opportunity fleating
Experiment precarious
Judgement difficult”

The Hippocratic Aphorisms – about four hundred – constitute a good example of the ideals of clinical medicine that Hippocrates practiced and taught and that his disciples, the Koan doctors, propagated. They were revered, memorized and elaborated upon by generations of Greek and Roman physicians as well as by medical practitioners in the Christian and Muslim Worlds of the Medieval era.

Galenos (Galen), a Greek who lived and worked in Pergamos, Asia Minor, in the second century AD, is the most famous of the intellectual pupils of Hippocrates and another giant in the history of Medicine.

Galen’s numerous writings demonstrate his complete devotion and reverence for the Father of Medicine. His writings – along with the Hippocratic Corpus (first Latin translation of which was published in AD 1525) – constituted the standard text books of scientific medicine from the Hellenistic-Roman to the post-Medieval period.

So greatly respected was Hippocrates throughout the Greek World, that with the coming of Christianity, ICONS OF HIM WERE PAINTED AND WERE PLACED IN CHURCHES next to icons of Christian saints. The only difference between icons of Christian saints and the icons of Hippocrates was that his did not have the halo around his head. Today, the memory of Hippocrates is part of local folklore. The great Plane Tree (or a direct descendant of it), under which popular myth has it that he used to teach his methods and principles, still stands in the heart of the city of Kos.

THROUGH HIS IDEAS AND ACTIONS, Hippocrates created a strong legacy, an expression of which was the Asclepieion of Kos and the many generations of distinguished Koan doctors who practiced throughout the Greek and Roman worlds.

The Asclepieion complex, remnants of which can be seen today, was built on the same site of the ancient sanctuary of the Asclepiads, of which only the ancient altar of Asclepios had survived. It was situated in an ancient cypress grove, sacred to Apollo Kyparissios, about 100 meters above sea level, on a downward sloping terrain, through which ran waters that came from natural mineral springs. The evergreen cypress grove still grows all around the site of the remnants of the Asclepieion.

The construction of the complex began toward the end of the 4th century. The various buildings were built over four centuries on three levels of the sloping terrain, an indication that the Asclepieion of Kos kept expanding its facilities, as a result of its increasing fame and influence.

Through its Asclepieion, Kos succeeded in achieving a special kind of influence over political powers like Athens, the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great and his successors, and the Roman Empire, by sending Koan doctors to all cities and states that needed them.

Numerous inscriptions have been found in Kos and elsewhere, honouring Koan doctors for their services to various cities and states. Some well known Koan doctors, after Hippocrates, were Thessalos and Drakon sons of Hippocrates, the anatomist Praxagoras, Kritodemos the surgeon of Alexander the Great, Dexippos, Erasistratos and Stertinios Xenophon who practiced in Rome, in the service of Emperors

In Hellenistic times, the Asclepieion had become a symbol in the Greek World almost equal in importance to other great symbols like:

– Delphi, the Oracle Place.
– Olympia, site of ancient Olympics
– Parthenon in Athens

Despite the fact that the splendor that was there for almost 900 years is now absent, to modern physicians visiting the Asclepieion is just as moving and breath-taking as visiting anyone of the above three great symbols of Greece.